Melbourne Airport Guide

Melbourne Tullamarine Airport, Terminal 4
kokkai / Getty Images

Melbourne Airport (MEL), also known as Tullamarine Airport, is the second busiest airport in Australia. It’s continually growing as a hub for domestic and international travelers as the airport saw more than 30.7 million passengers in 2018—an increase of 4.4 percent from 2017. If you’re one of those lucky people passing through Melbourne, here’s what you need to know about the airport.

Melbourne Airport Code, Location, and Contact Information

Know Before You Go

Melbourne Airport has no curfew; it’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s a simple airport to navigate because it’s one large building with multiple levels. It’s a busy airport, but it’s not overwhelming. There is clear and legible signage throughout each terminal to help you make your way through check-in and security. 

There are four terminals—one international (Terminal 2) and three domestic (Terminals 1, 3, and 4). Melbourne Airport provides connections to 31 locations throughout Australia and 43 international destinations. 

Before your flight, you can check which terminal your airline is in on the Melbourne Airport website. In general, Terminal 1 is a Qantas domestic hub, Terminal 2 is international flights, Terminal 3 is a Virgin Australia domestic hub, and Terminal 4 is all other domestic airlines such as Jetstar and Tiger Air. 

For departures at Melbourne Airport, passengers traveling through Terminals 1, 2, and 3 can be dropped off via Departure Drive on Level 2. Access to the Terminal 4 drop-off is currently on Level 1. 

For arrivals at Melbourne Airport, there is a one-minute pickup zone located outside on the ground level of Terminals 1, 2, and 3 (T123). The pickup zone for Terminal 4 is on Level 1 of the parking garage. Be aware that there is a strict one-minute standing requirement for all vehicles. If your driver needs a little more time, a 10-minute pickup zone is available for passengers arriving from Terminals 1, 2, and 3. To access this zone, follow the ‘10-minute pickup’ signs.

There are also six car rental companies available at Melbourne Airport. You'll find them located on the ground level of T123 parking garage.

Airport Parking

There are plenty of options for parking at Melbourne Airport, depending on your budget and preference of location. 

Parking for T123 is a five-minute walk from the terminals. Once you exit baggage claim, the garage is across the street. The parking garage for Terminal 4 is separate and located across the street from the terminal. You can park a car in any of the terminal car parks for up to 45 days. To guarantee a parking spot, you may book one ahead of time on the Melbourne Airport website

Long-term parking is the cheapest option. The longer you stay, the cheaper you pay per day. It requires a shuttle bus to transfer you from the car park to the terminal, but it runs 24/7 and departs every five minutes. You can book a long-term parking spot before you get to the airport if need be. 

Melbourne Airport recently opened a value short-stay car park. It offers four hours of parking for a flat rate of AU$10. It’s a convenient option for meet-and-greet situations at the airport. This car park includes a free shuttle bus service that operates 24/7 and departs every 10 minutes.

There’s also valet parking and premium parking at Melbourne Airport. Both options will save you time by providing conveniently located parking spots. 

Driving Directions

From Melbourne Central Business District, hop on Mt Alexander Road/State Route 60, to merge onto the ramp toward Tullamarine Fwy/M2. Then follow signs for State Route 43/Tullamarine Fwy/Melb Airport/Essendon Airport. Take the Terminal Drive South exit toward Melbourne Airport. 

The Tullamarine Freeway may require a CityLink pass for tolls. To avoid this, take Western Ring Road. 

Public Transportation and Taxis

If you’re looking for a ride to your hotel or a surrounding neighborhood in Melbourne, taxis can be located on the ground level outside each terminal. It takes about 35 minutes to get to Melbourne City and should cost about AU$55–65. An additional AU$3.65 is applied to all pickups from the airport taxi rank. 

The SkyBus is a cheap and convenient option to get to Melbourne CBD. You can purchase a Melbourne City Express ticket from a red-colored ticket booth on the ground level of Terminals 1, 3, and 4. You can also buy tickets online. It’s a 30–40 minute direct ride and costs AU$19.75 for one way. It will drop you off at Southern Cross Station in the city. The SkyBus also offers express services from Melbourne Airport to St. Kilda, Frankston, Docklands, and Western suburbs. Likewise, you can catch the SkyBus at any of these destinations to get to Melbourne Airport.

Public buses
arrive and depart from Melbourne Airport on the ground floor of the Transportation Hub near Terminal 4. You need a myki card to get on the bus. This journey is not direct and takes about 70 minutes to get to Melbourne CBD.

Where to Eat and Drink 

Melbourne is a big, food-loving city and it showcases that in its airport. Whether you’re looking for a quick grab-and-go meal or a sit-down experience, there are plenty of options for food and drinks at Melbourne Airport. Cuisine ranges from Asian to Italian, and from Mexican to French. There are healthy options, indulgent options, and everything in between.    

Some of the best spots for eating and drinking include Cafe Vu (Terminal 2), which offers French-inspired food. It’s a little pricey, but the pre-packed lunch boxes will save you mid-flight. Brunetti (Terminals 2 and 4) is an excellent spot for tasting Melbourne’s coffee and biting into an Italian pastry (calories don’t count when you’re traveling). And Baxa (Terminal 2) is a Vietnamese fast-casual restaurant that serves warm noodles to send you into a food coma during your flight. Check out Two Johns Taphouse (Terminal 2 and 4) for a local beer and pub food before you leave Melbourne. 

Of course, there’s Hungry Jacks, McDonald’s, Subway, and Krispy Kreme as reliable, fast food options. 

Where to Shop

Melbourne Airport has a variety of shops, from luxury goods to simple souvenirs. Terminal 2 is where you’ll find designer stores such as Tiffany & Co., TUMI, Michael Kors, and Max Mara. Throughout the other terminals, you can browse for Australian products, souvenirs, and clothing at places such as the Australian Produce Store, Country Road, and Icons Victoria. You’ll also find Newslink for books and magazines, Amcal Pharmacy health solutions, and Tech2Go if you lost a charger. 

How to Spend Your Layover

The airport is secluded from attractions near the city center, which is 14 miles away. However, URBNSURF, Australia’s first surf park is opening next to MEL in early 2020—so bring your bathing suit if you’re keen to catch some waves as you wait for your next flight.

Since it's a 30–40 minute ride from MEL to Melbourne CBD, allow enough time for transportation if you want to leave the airport during a long layover. When you get to the city center, check out the National Gallery of Victoria, or grab food at Queen Victoria Market. If the weather is sunny, enjoy a drink at one of Melbourne’s rooftop bars. 

For passengers with an overnight layover, you can sleep through the night at a nearby hotel such as Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport, Ibis Budget Melbourne Airport, or ParkRoyal Melbourne Airport.

You can store your bags (or other unusually-shaped items such as surfboards, bikes, car seats, or instruments) in lockers at Terminal 2, just before security. 

Airport Lounges

There are a few lounges in the Melbourne Airport where it’s possible to buy a day pass. This is available at Marhaba Lounge, Plaza Premium Lounge, and The House located in Terminal 2. 

Other airline lounges that members or select passengers can use include Qantas, Virgin Australia, REX, Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, and AMEX. 

WiFi and Charging Stations

Melbourne Airport offers complimentary WiFi throughout its terminals. To connect to the “Airport Free WiFi,” simply enter your details, accept the terms and conditions, and click “start browsing." Just keep in mind that the WiFi at MEL is not encrypted. 

Charging stations and power outlets are freely available and located throughout the airport. You won’t have trouble finding a spot to charge your devices before taking off. 

Airport Tips and Tidbits

Melbourne Airport offers a few extra amenities to make your travels more comfortable and convenient.

  • The Prayer Room is located on the ground floor between Terminals 2 and 3. It’s open 24 hours a day.
  • The children’s play area is located in Terminal 2, opposite Gate 15B.
  • You can find currency exchange offices at the Travelex store in Terminals 1 and 2. Here you can purchase foreign cash from over 40 currencies, plus phone cards and Travelex Cash Passports.
  • You can send mail from Melbourne Airport. Look for red (regular mail) or yellow (express post) Australian post boxes located curbside at the Terminal 1 drop-off zone.
  • If you need help planning your travels, Flight Centre travel agency is located on the first floor of Terminal 2. Travel agents can help with booking accommodation, flights, insurance, and tours.
  • Melbourne airport has a Hidden Disability Program for the International Terminal. This program supports travelers who require special assistance by providing a lanyard, sensory maps, social stories, and trained staff to make sure you’re looked after.